Episode 23: The Creative and Business Minded Brain of Rachel Dukes

June 8, 2016

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Today we
interviewed Rachel Dukes. I have to say that I knew Rachel was awesome before I
turned on the mic, but until I heard her talk about everything she’s done I had
no idea how awesome.

Here’s her
bio from her website;

Rachel Dukes is a MFA graduate from The Center for Cartoon
Studies (2013) who self-publishes on her website Mixtape Comics. Despite
attempts to avoid being a cat-lady, her most popular strips always feature her
cat. Her first self-published mini-comic of those strips, Frankie Comics #1, was a winner of the 2013 Art
Exchange program by Marc Calvary.

 

Rachel draws comics for Boom Studios (Garfield, Steven Universe), Silver Sprocket (As You Were), and
is a regular contributor to anthologies and fanzines by other indie
cartoonists. She is secretly working on her first graphic novel, slated for a
2017 release.

 

For ten years, Rachel ran the small press mini comics and
distribution company, Poseur Ink (2003-2013). During that time Poseur Ink
published collections of Dukes’ journal comic Intentionally Left Blankand
the anthologies Side A: The Music Lover’s
Graphic Novel
 and Side B: The Music Lovers Comic Anthology. Poseur Ink
also distributed work by cartoonists Megan Rose Gedris, Colleen Frakes, Box
Brown, Josh PM Frees, and Ed Brisson.

 

During that same decade, Dukes also ran the custom badge/button
website Mod Buttons where she created custom merchandise for other
artists/companies such as: NIS America, John Fluevog Shoes, Saddle Creek
Record, and VampireFreaks.

Rachel is currently settled in Los Angeles where she
self-publishes comics and comic anthologies. She is thankful for coffee,
gingham, and readers like you.

 

We went all
over the place with this interview man, and I think it’s because Rachel was an
indie publisher just like me for so long, and she’s gone through some things
that I’m just going through now, like the idea that there is no gatekeeper, and
then the idea that you are suddenly looked upon as the gatekeeper. I still
can’t tell you how weird it is that I get submissions and people see me as an
authority in this space.

Rachel got
to where she is today not only because she’s talented, but also because she
just did it. She didn’t wait to become an awesome artist, she started her first
webcomic years before she was “qualified” to do so. And she started making
minicomics because she thought they were cool. And she made an anthology
because she and her friends wanted to work together. And it was well received.
Well received enough that people like Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Star Wars) graced
her second anthology.

She’s been
submitting for anthologies forever, and she knows that you have to submit to
hundreds of places to be accepted at one, especially where you are starting
out. I love that Rachel doesn’t take any of that personally. She knows
rejection is a part of the game, and she knows that just because somebody
rejects you today doesn’t mean that they will reject you in a year, and it
definitely doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It probably means you weren’t a
good fit for that project.

I don’t know
where that came from, but it’s not luck. However, hard work can look like luck
to an outsider. Did she happen to be in the right place at the right time?
Sure. But that’s because she was in the right place at the wrong time or wrong
place at the wrong time even a lot more times. One of the things I always
preach is that you have to show up. You have to be there, and you have to
outlast the other girl.

There are
people who are more talented and better than you that will give up, but if you
keep going you can make it. We talk in business about runways, which is how
much money you have left. I like to tell me wife that I know Wannabe Press and
BOA are good ideas. I just need them to take off before the runway ends.

Another
thing she hit on and hit on over and over was this idea of her friends being
successful, and I think that’s so important, because her friends weren’t always
that way. She had a friend circle, much like most of you, that wanted to do
something. They weren’t working on comics full time. They weren’t
professionals. They just wanted to do things. She banded together with them for
her first anthology, and boom, years later many of them are working
professionally.

She told a
story of looking at one of her friends a couple of years ago and saying “We are
now the industry. How did that happen?” I think that’s so cool because I feel
the same way. A lot of my friends are now working in the industries we came up
aspiring too…and all because I surrounded myself with passionate people who wanted
to do something.

We ended by
talking about just doing things, and asking for what you want. This isn’t
asking for permission. It’s asking people to join you in something awesome. For
instance, Rachel posted the first Frankie comic as a joke. It was on a break on
her thesis from grad school. And it immediately went viral. But she wouldn’t
have known people liked it if she didn’t put it out there and ask people about
it.

It’s hard to
be vulnerable as an artist, but Rachel is about to handle that line between
creative and business, tough yet able to put herself out there at her most raw.
There are thousands of things she’s done that didn’t work. However, by putting
it all out there she was able to find what did and work on some of the coolest
books out there like Steven Universe!

Find us on Itunes.
If you like the show please subscribe, rate, and review it. It’s the #1 thing
you can do to make sure we reach more people.

You can find
her at frankiecomics.com or mixtapecomics.com, and she’s across social media as
@mixtapecomics. Thanks for listening and thank you Rachel for being on the
show! 

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3 comments on “Episode 23: The Creative and Business Minded Brain of Rachel Dukes

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